Friday, January 27, 2012

Goodbye Princess!

Yesterday was a sad day for me.  We decided that we needed to send our princess Sota to a new home. 

Sota joined our family 7 1/2 years ago.  Hubs and my mom chipped in and purchased her for me for my birthday in '04.  Hubs reason was because he loved me so much and knew how badly I wanted a little Cockapoo.  It was 6 months after we got married and I had been talking about getting a Cockapoo for a few months.  My moms reasoning behind the help of purchasing her was because she didn't want me to get pregnant while still in college.  (Hubs and I got married the summer before our senior year).  For whatever reason they decided to get her for me I was THRILLED!  She was the love of my life!  That's what I told people.  My poor husband of only 6 months had already been pushed to the side... because of a dog.  

This is Sota when we first got her.  She was so tiny she could fit in Hubs hand and still have room to wiggle.  

This is Sota after we moved to NJ from VA.  She loved going out on the boat and swimming in the late.  

Sota was always very easy.  She never gave me a run for my money.  She listened so well.  She loved kids and could be left alone at home ALL day long happily.  We didn't have to walk her, she was happy with just taking a quick run around the yard during her potty times.  I rarely had to let her out.  I could get away with 3 times a day, (2 if I was at work).  EASY!!

We worked with Sota a lot before having the boys.  We would always have friends with kids over we would allow our next door neighbor who was little come and play with her.  She loved kids.  We were so excited to have kids of our own.  We couldn't wait for them to love each other.  We pictured Sota climbing in the crib and snuggling with them (she loves to snuggle).  We had talked about how we would have to be careful to not leave the door of the nursery open incase she would actually try to do that.  I had always 'bothered' her while she was eating to make sure she wouldn't bit someone if they came near her during feeding.  (I was bit by a dog when I was young.  She was the sweetest thing...I didn't know not to touch a dog while they were eating...)

When I got pregnant I was thrilled.  Sota would lay on my belly and just nuzzle.  I hoped she 'understood' what was going on.  During the pregnancy we started to slowly change what she was 'allowed' and 'not allowed' to do.  No more sleeping on our bed (she didn't fit anymore), no more laying on the couch (again she didn't fit with me there... I was huge).  

This is the day I was induced with the boys.  I couldn't even bend over to pet her anymore.  

We were thrilled to bring the boys home from the hospital to meet her.  We were given helpful hints by other friends that brought babes home to their dog.  Hubs went home during my hospital stay just to see her.  We wanted to make sure we didn't push her to the side.  The first night he went home he brought the boys hats home with him.  The boys wore their hats in the hospital the whole time.  We knew that the hats would smell just like them.  The next time he went home he brought home two of the hospital blankets.  He allowed Sota to sniff them lick them, etc.  

When we brought the boys home we decided to leash Sota.  She gets very very excited and we didn't want her to JUMP on the boys.  She did such a great job meeting the boys.  

This is one of the first days home with M and G.  She loved them.  She would come up and snuggle their little bodies.

She was very interested in the boys.  She was pretty timid around them.  She would basically just walk around them.  She would lick bare feet, but never really seemed bothered by them.  

 Sota & G

G, Sota, M

We would say that Sota's favorite time of the year is winter.  She was born the end of November so maybe that's why.  She loves to rut and roll in the snow.  It takes forever to get her to come inside.  

These pictures were from last winter. 

As the boys got older and began moving around on their own Sota began to change.  If one of the boys reached out for her she would 'snap'.  Her snap USE to be a quiet bark then lick (never actually teeth).  Sota has 2 types of tick disease and slight arthritis in her hips.  As she has gotten older she has become very aware of this area.  If the boys touched her there she would not be happy.  Of course when the boys first started touching her it wasn't very gentle.  They were babes and didn't understand pet.  They grabbed.  Hubs saw how much the boys wanted to play with Sota and how much Sota was beginning to not like the boys.  This is what I had/have the hardest time with.  Hubs decided last February that he needed to get a big dog.  A dog that the boys could 'wrestle'.  A dog that would allow them to touch him.  A dog that they could accidentally (or purposely) fall on.  I was 100% against this decision.  I honestly didn't want ANY dog.  Not even Sota anymore.  It was a lot to take care of.  Working full time, new mom of twins, being a wife, and taking care of the dog.  Of course Hubs didn't see it that way and came home with this....


Sota didn't seem to mind, but I'm sure she felt pushed aside even more!

As the boys got even older I had to gate the dogs out of our living space.  The boys have the living room and dining room.  The dogs have the hallway and kitchen.  I could handle the two boys, Sota, and the big dog Jersey all in our little living space.  Talk about clutter!

The boys LOVE their dogs.  They love to go to the gate and reach through to touch them.  Jersey loves to lick them through the gate.  Sota loves to bite them through the gate.  Her soft lick snap turned into a snap that would sometimes draw little drops of blood.  G rarely tried to touch her.  M LOVES her.  M didn't mind at all.  He would get bitten say NO BITE and then start touching her again.  She began to constantly bare her teeth at the boys.

A friend told us of a friend that she has that was looking for a grown dog.  They have 3 older kids (middle school age).  We thought that this would be a perfect family for her.  SHE LOVES KIDS... just not ours.

Two weekends ago that family came over to meet Sota.  Hubs said that if they said they wanted her we should send her off right then and there.  I wasn't ready to do that.  Hubs just got back from Haiti the day before.  I needed some normalcy again.  I told the family I would call them during the week.

I put off calling them until the end of the weekend.  I'm so glad I did because we got one last snow day to play with her.

During our last week I decided to allow Sota in the living space with us a bunch more than normal.  She did so good with the boys.  The boys did so well with her.  As the boys figured out to use their hands they stopped grabbing her fur and began to pet her.  They learned quickly what areas to not touch and learned that they couldn't even accidentally fall on her.  For the most part the would give her a hug, kiss, pet and then leave her alone.

I began to second guess myself.  They were doing so well together.

Yesterday the family was scheduled to pick her up around 4:00.  I allowed her in the living space all day.  I wanted to get some final pictures of her with the boys.

 M really became attached to her the last week and a half.  He calls her name and always looks to make sure she is close.

 G continued to stay at a distance.

 You can notice in this picture that she has had enough.  She is beginning to bare her teeth and growl at M.  She actually bit him right after this.  It was the worst bite yet.  She didn't let go of his hand until I grabbed the back of her neck and her face with my other hand.  M cried for about 2 seconds and then began to love on her again.

 Of course I don't want my children to get bit, but I was happy that this happened.  I felt like OK I am making the right decision.  It's still not going to be easy but I can't have a dog that bites my children.

 M has been asking for her since he woke up from his nap yesterday.  It's heartbreaking.  He yells  SooooTTTAaaaa.  Sota COME!  Come HERE!

We keep telling him that she went bye bye home, that she went to live with another family.  I'm sure it won't last much longer.

Well Sota, I love you and I will surely miss you!  I know you are with a family that will take good care of you and you will most likely be much happier there.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hubs and Haiti

So this is my first official post!  Kristin has been asking me since I got back from Haiti almost two weeks ago to write a post sharing about the work we did.  It has been hectic getting back into the swing of things at home and work so it has taken a little longer than expected.

Getting involved in the trip was in large a last minute decision.  I had intended to go to the informational meetings that were held at the Church, but always had something else planned or just plain forgot.  One night at youth group I was talking with Andrew and he told me the deadline for the deposit was on Friday, in 3 days.  Needless to say this is a little last minute to tell your wife that you want to go on a missions trip to Haiti, leaving her (6 months pregnant) and your 22 month old twin boys home alone for a full week without any way to be in touch except for emergency contact.  As you can deduce by the title of this post, we talked and prayed about the trip and felt that God was opening the doors for this to happen.

Our awesome group

So now to the trip.  There was not a lot of information provided for the work that we were going to be doing when we got to Haiti.  What we did know was that we were going through the organization GAiN and we were going to be working out of the Nehemiah Vision Ministries (NVM) compound just outside of the small village of Chambrun.  There was talk of food distribution, small construction projects, working with the village orphanage, and whatever else there was a need for.  Now it was a little difficult for me not knowing exactly what our plans were and in addition we arrived on a Saturday afternoon and didn't really have any "projects" until Monday.

We did end up doing a lot of different projects throughout the week.  One of our main focuses was to go into the largest displacement camp (which is home to around 230,000 of the over 500,000 people displaced from the earthquake), which is Onaville, and provide over 120 people/families with a personal water filtration system that would allow them to purify up to 55 gallons of water per day.  It was amazing being a part of this and seeing the hope and joy that they had in knowing that this small little filter was going to keep their family healthier and potentially save their lives.

Registration and time of witnessing to those receiving the filters
Dirty water buckets with water filters
Clean buckets for storing the filtered water

We spent our mornings in the village and would go back to the NVM compound in the afternoons where we did various projects around the compound, our main focus being to install fencing around a 10 acre field.  This was needed to keep goats and other grazing animals out.


A long way to go...

We did have several opportunities throughout the week to spend time playing with the children from the area around Chambrun, and on our last work day the children from Onaville.  This was one of the greatest parts of the trip because you could just see the immediate joy that these kids had when a complete stranger gave them attention and affection.  It appeared as though culturally there was little affection or interaction given between the men and the children.  The boys especially singled out the men of our group to play soccer and games with.  I have always had a desire to work with children and enjoyed being a human jungle gym, but this was the first time that I have been away from MY boys for this long and in a situation like this.  This was the one area where I struggled the most with "home sickness".  Although I did miss Kristin and the boys and wish that I could be with them, or at the least be sharing this experience with them, it did give me a greater appreciation for being a part of their lives and getting to love on them as much (more than they care for at times) as I do.

When all was said and done, it was such a joy and blessing to be a part of this trip and to see how God is working in Haiti.  To see the believers in Haiti worship with all of themselves.  To see how they worshiped without shame.  To see the hope that they have for something more even though they live in such a poor country and have seen so much hurt, corruption, and devastation. When arriving at the compound I was ready to be thrown into the thick of it and get my hands dirty.  I wanted to make sure that "I" did the most that I could while there.  That "my" time wasn't wasted.  Looking back, I think that the lesson that God had for me is that there is great joy and healing in the small and seemingly trivial tasks.

I come away from this opportunity grateful for the many blessings that I have been given.  It is hard to come back to so much busyness and greed after serving a people who have nothing and yet are so grateful and thankful for what they do have.  They have nothing yet are content in knowing that they live to serve an eternal God and that they have hope in eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I ask that you would keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers!

Below are some more pictures taken throughout the trip.

The compound

Driving through Onaville to distribute water filters
Market stands along the road
Concrete housing that is slowly being built on one side of the road

The "other side" of the road with aid tents and ruble used to create homes

Onaville is home to 230,000+ people displaced from the earthquake and spans over 8 miles of the mountain.

Showing off their new bracelets
Our new buddy Anes

Anes taking a photo

Waiting patiently for mom to receive her water filter

If you look really close you can see a kite just above the mountains

Giving out the bracelets that Kristin and I made

Overlooking Haiti

This video scans from one end of Haiti to the border of the Dominican Republic

Our awesome group
The lights from Port-au-Prince
Gift shop with beads and crafts made by the women of Chambrun

Our transportation which is called a Tap-Tap, headed back to the airport
The beautiful sunset on our flight home